It was great that the weather was so much better last week. (I’m being ironic.)
I went to a game on Wednesday night and was lashed by wind and rain.
I went to a game on Friday night and was lashed by wind and rain.
I was at a game on Saturday afternoon and was lashed by wind and rain.
My Sunday morning game was called off 15 minutes before kick-off because the pitch had too many puddles.
But in all the mayhem I’ve managed to see nine games and 51 goals in the last six days.
I’ve seen two Finals on the same day, a Semi-Final at Wembley, and games in the Spartan South Midlands, Essex Senior and London Underground Leagues.
I’ve seen the UEFA Champions League holders and Clapham United Ladies Reserves.
The attendances have ranged from 85,621 to three. I’ve seen one team finish with eight players and a team of Koreans lose 11-0.
One of my favourite days of the season is the Saturday of the AFA Senior Cup and AFA Women’s Cup Finals, played at the same venue. This year’s hosts were Old Chigwellians FC, whose ground in Roding Lane (a long, winding country lane with not much in the way of pavements) is a 20-minute walk from Chigwell tube station on the Central line.
It was really out in the countryside; there was a stream running a few yards behind the goals. There was a lot of ‘live streaming’ as the goalies had to slide down to retrieve the ball.
The Women’s Final between Clapham United Reserves and AFC Phoenix was played on the pitch close to the clubhouse and kicked-off at 10.30 before a rowdy gathering of 47.
It was damp but playable and Phoenix were ahead with a great strike within three minutes. Phoenix won what turned out to be a close game 3-2.
The AFA CEO kindly invited me to join them for lunch in the clubhouse and I noticed spots of rain against the windows as the 3pm kick-off for the Men’s Final approached.
It actually rained throughout the game, watched by a crowd of 130, and it was windy enough to cause my umbrella to blow inside out every few minutes. I must be some kind of ‘lucky mascot’ for Old Minchendenians, who I’ve now seen win their quarter-final, semi-final and Final.
Their football section was formed in 1933 and joined the Old Boys League as part of the Minchenden Old Pupils Association. This had been started up by ex-pupils of Minchenden Grammar School in Southgate.
‘Minch’ now play in the Amateur Football Combination and were appearing in their first AFA Senior Final on Saturday. In their green and black striped shirts they weathered early storms both on and off the pitch to be level at 0-0 at half-time against Old Salesians of the Southern Amateur League.
Then there was some drama that changed the complexion of the game, two ‘Sales’ players being red-carded together to leave them well short for the last half-hour.
Their nine-man team nearly took the lead with a thumping header from a corner that hit the underside of the bar but Minch scored two quick goals and made it 3-0 near the end, by which time Sales were down to eight after another red card. Then it was a walk back to the tube in the rain, dodging the tractors as they rumbled round blind corners.
According to the programme one Minch player was “an extremely important team member both on the pitch and in Ibiza”.
Games this season = 149
Games in total = 6,444